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The Alternative Queen's Speech 1: British Bill of Rights Bill

TAQSThis is the first of fifteen draft Bills in an Alternative Queen's Speech that sets out what a legislative programme might have looked like if a majority Conservative government had been elected. Read more about the initiative here.

For many in Britain, the whole concept of human rights has fallen into disrepute. That is why the Bill of Rights should be brought forward this year.

The problem is not the European Convention on Human Rights, a document of unquestionable liberties, but the expansionist agenda and flawed decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Since 2008 it has blocked over 900 attempts by Britain to deport foreign criminals and suspected terrorists. It has told parents how to discipline their children and attempted to give prisoners the right to vote.

At the same time it has not prevented past governments passing draconian legislation such as control orders, extended detention without charge, retaining the DNA of innocent people, or forcing people to carry ID cards. We must restore some common sense and balance. 

In all but the most exceptional circumstances, human rights cases brought in or against Britain should be decided in our Supreme Court, not Strasbourg.

We should also replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. We do not need to slavishly follow Strasbourg’s judgments. France doesn't. Germany doesn't. They wrote their own constitutional laws, tailored to their specific needs. As a result they achieve a wider "margin of appreciation."

A Bill of Rights for Britain would have three main advantages over the Human Rights Act.

First, it would ensure a more sensible balance of "rights", allowing us to spell out in detail the specific fundamental freedoms we want to protect, but also the duties owed by everyone in this country.

Second, it would be more democratic, because the Bill of Rights would be debated and passed by our democratically elected Parliament.

Third, by giving the Bill of Rights constitutional force - so it cannot be repealed on a whim -  we would strengthen, not weaken, the fundamental freedoms we want to protect.


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